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  1. LImitSeeker
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    LImitSeeker New Member

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    Need help....I am new in novel writing...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LImitSeeker, Mar 31, 2016.

    Well....I always fond of stories.....in games, movies, and books. The visual novel Zero Escape and novel Percy Jackson series sparked my interest in writing. So I am now scratching a novel and kinda stuck. So here are my questions :

    1. I am planning to create a deep backstories for the plot (like....World of Warcraft deep). Instead of info-dumping, I decided to write a little lore section in the end where others usually use it as glosarium. This back lore is to extend the story but not compulsory, but instead serve as method to clear questions. Important backstories does appear in novel, but won't be absurdly long. Is this good idea?
    2. Is it worth to check the Law of Physics? My genre is Fantasy, but I want to incorporate some science stuff, is it ok? I yes should reader know this? If yes how should I tell them, Lore or character's explanation?
    3. What do people hate from Fantasy genre? it can be anything from character to plot.I need to now so I can minimize the risk.


    Any inputs and inspirations are welcome. Thank you for your time.
     
  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like your backstories might be more interesting to you that you're already planning on writing lots of it, to the point where you want to have a lore section. My question: Are you sure your novel isn't one of the supposed "back" stories? Eg. what you thought was a backstory is really the novel idea? You should start with what interests you - and it seems the lore is what interests you. No one would plan backstories the depth of WOW unless they were in love with these stories!
     
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  3. Sundowner
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    Sundowner Member

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    Something I very much appreciate about Harry Potter is that, despite it involving this massive, complex fantasy world, we're slowly introduced to it the same way Harry is. Harry and the reader are both newcomers to this magical world, and Harry explores it along with us, being bewildered by all these unexplained and fantastic things like living chocolate and moving trees. Everyone treats these things as normal, every-day occurrences for them, so they don't bother acknowledging it for very long (read: infodumping), and even if these things aren't properly explained, both Harry and the reader are still stupefied by the things we see, just because they've been introduced in interesting ways.
    A fantasy story should seamlessly introduce it's worldbuilding inside the story. Sure, if you want to infodump with extensive, needless detail about how every little thing works in some kind of appendix, that's fine. I do that too. But you should still introduce the reader to your world in the main story, where they can get a basic understanding of what something is, without having to refer to the appendix. If you've got some kind of thieving goblin race, use your story to introduce us to them by showing a group of them trying to steal something. You can tell me all about their biology and culture in-depth in the appendix, but all I care about is that they're a simplistic, greedy race and I probably wouldn't want to go along with one down a dark ally. That's how you properly explain your world to the reader. Do it simplistically and slowly. Give just enough detail through example, not dialogue. Make the reader a part of your world, a member of it, not an outsider.
     
  4. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    Since the first question has already been answered (thank you, Sundowner), I'll tackle the second two.

    Physics: I don't see why not, as long as it makes sense. If the gadgets you want to include are commonplace (say, skyships), then don't bother with an infodump - just give us a brief explanation:

    Mariel had heard of skyships, but being from the backwoods, she'd never seen one, let alone ridden on one. She gaped in awe at the huge ship that rested in the docking cradle.

    "How does this fly?" she asked Themicles.

    "See that huge bag floating above it?" Themicles pointed up. "It contains a gas that's lighter than air. This enables the ship to float; the big rotor at the rear" - another gesture - "which is turned by a turbine powered by human muscle, provides the forward thrust, and the wings on the sides provide directional movement."

    Or something like that. You don't even need to be that detailed, unless it's integral to the plot. As long as it makes sense. (Yes, I said that twice, because it's important. If your world is internally consistent and everything has a logical reason for being the way it is - not just "It's magic!" - you can do whatever you want.)

    3: There's another thread that asks that very question.
     
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  5. LImitSeeker
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    LImitSeeker New Member

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    Ah... I see. I suppose Mckk is true. I will try to get some pilot idea where version 1 is my current progress and the version 2instead use the timeline of the Lore, so the MC is from that era. For Sundowner, I guess I will put the description as simple yet able to capture the interest of readers. The long descriptions will be either in Lore after the end of the book (Ver.1) or Memoir of MC's adventure after each chapter (Ver.2). IHaveNoName, that is true, I suppose this is story time no science class lol. So yeah I will refrain from explain things like my biology teacher. Oh and thanks for showing the thread. Thanks for all the input. I hope I can finish my scratches of novel.
     
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  6. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, welcome aboard!

    1. You will find writers come into two non-communicative camps, the planners and the pantsers. You sound like you might be a planner, or at least may start out as one. I am a pantser, who lets the characters tell the story and I just take dictation from them. My wife is intermediate. If you are a planner, that backstory is important because it is part of the world your characters are going to be moving in. You are writing fantasy, so that world doesn't exist, and you have to create it and have it firm in your mind so your plot will take place in a consistent setting. I write historical fiction, WIP is set in 1st century, so my backstory is defined for me, I just have to research the background. But the backstory, or my historical setting, is for you and I, not our readers! No matter how intricate your backstory is, and how taken you are with it, don't try to impress the reader with it, any more than I would want to impress the reader with my research. The story is about your characters, not your genius. Give out the backstory in dribs and drabs, let the reader wonder where in this world he is and want to know more, then tell him a bit more and keep sucking him in, until he has suspended his disbelief. I don't recommend you put the backstory in the novel as an addendum, but a map, and maybe some of the major characters may be OK. Certainly as something for your personal reference
    2. Physics depends on the story. Again, don't try to impress your readers with your knowledge, but if you can offer a cogent and correct, or at least credible, physical basis for some of your phenomena, by all means do it. Be careful not to use magic as the do-all deus ex machina that solves all problems, and characters don't have to use common sense because they have this all-powerful magic wand! And it is always better to have the characters show or tell the story, never give a long author's narration. In one scene I had a long third person narration on the beauties of 1st century Alexandria, including a lot of things my characters would not have known, seen or cared about (I was impressing the reader with what a smart person I was, to have done all this research!). I changed it a dialogue as they were riding on a carriage on the very wide and orderly Canopic Way, with the centurion being very taken by the bikini-clad lovelies playing beach ball on the sand by the Eunostis Harbor (Research too, I have a picture of a mosaic showing exactly that!), while small sailboats skittered like dragonflies among the stately pleasure yachts. Totally different approach, and the reader sees and feels like they are there. Maybe even wants to be there, if they can find what they used for suntan lotion then. Referring back to 1 above, I had a city map of Alexandria from 100AD to guide me, but that was just pasted into the beginning of the chapter so the reader could, if they wished, orient themselves. I only used the parts they could see from the carriage.
    3. I am not a fantasy reader, other than Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. I like good science fiction. Overuse of magic is a turn off to me (2 above) and horribly evil villains that are just evil through and through are a turn off. I like complex characters, good guys struggling with flaws, bad guys struggling to be good, real people in a fantasy setting

    Good luck! My wife is starting her WIP, a fantasy based on a pack of shape-shifting werewolves living among people. Some of them are good, some are evil, I love it but then I am prejudiced. The hardest thing for her, as it was for me and will be for you, is to write that very first sentence. The second hardest thing is to write the very last one. So get started and let chips fall where they may!
     
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  7. loonypapa
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    loonypapa Member

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    I respectfully disagree that backstory and historical setting should stay locked up, and that characters should be relied upon as the sole tellers of the story. It actually should depend on the work and the story. (Although I would agree that the backstory should be meaningful to propelling the story forward.) I have a couple of examples:

    The Da Vinci Code - huge, epic backstory, that is doled out in generous portions from the first sentence to the last.
    The Source - another huge, epic story, with copious amounts of historic setting, relayed in great detail across thousands of years through multiple families.
    Red Storm Rising - backstory takes up the first 50 pages or so of a 600 page novel.
     
  8. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Red Storm Rising was Tom Clancy's second book and was basically a very well-depicted outline of a hypothetical war between the US, NATO and the Soviet Union. The story was very good but it was ALL back story, with the characters playing bit parts in what was essentially 3rd person narration. It was published by the US Naval Institute which liked his approach and specializes in non-fiction. It was of great interest to military professionals of the era, such as myself, and to us, like to him, the characters were secondary to the wargame scenario derived from information best left unsaid. The other two might work if you are a known author like Dan Brown or Michener, and Michener is famous for being able to hook his reader on back story, especially when like The Source, the story spans several millennia.

    As for me, and my recommendation to new writers, is to develop your backstory, or your historical matrix, but dole it out parsimoniously, don't hit your reader over the head with it. And you don't have to use all of it. My WIP took my party of Romans on a first century sea voyage from the Red Sea across the Indian Ocean to China, and back overland. I have a ton of historical background that never left my research folder or archive files, because my characters didn't see it, and it wasn't relative to the story.

    When my characters got to Chang'an (modern Xian), I was expecting them pick up a caravan west for Rome, so I had a lot of detail of the city at the time: population 1M, formerly the capital, badly damaged in a civil war in 25AD and the emperor moved to Luoyang a few hundred miles east which they had just left, military units, archaeological maps, etc, However, when they got to Chang'an, they weren't able to go in, because the city guards were searching and scrutinizing all Buddhist monks with western faces (most of them then), and that was their disguise. Cover blown! So all they got to see were the three big parallel roads into the massive eastern wall from a distance, smoke, the Romans mentioning it looked as big as Rome, but more orderly (Rome was also 1M people then but sprawling, with meandering walls), and their native born translators telling them about the civil war 75 years ago. Then trying to turn an oxcart around against a steady stream of foot, horse and wagon traffic going both directions, without attracting too much attention. A bit of detail that the center lane of the big roads was reserved for the Chinese express post and military, keep the oxcart out of that lane or it might get run over. They had to look for a place to hide and build a new cover... they had all shaved their heads, including the woman, as part of the monk disguise, but otherwise a shaved head was the mark of an escaped prisoner or disgraced prostitute, another problem for them to solve. Where to go? Anywhere but here, north there were mountains, always good places to hide there.

    At 250K/800 pages it is well within the Michener range for length, but my betas have all liked the way both the setting and the characters emerged slowly as an adventure story, not as an historical treatise. It is also unpublished as yet! But... whatever works for you!
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  9. aguywhotypes
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    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    I love Red Storm Rising and from that we have the board/miniature wargame Harpoon by Larry Bond, He worked a lot with Clancy on it didn't he? I owned the game at one time, never played it much, it's very complicated to say the least. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/11432/harpoon-4
     
  10. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Played too many real wargames to enjoy doing them again for fun! Yes, Larry Bond was mentioned as co-author in the book's credits.
     

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